For almost any other rock band that springs to mind, the thought of mounting an epic world tour drawing only from that band’s undisputed Eighties golden era ” after what’s close to twenty years of going round in circles until you circle right off the map ” would be a cynical exercise appealing directly to fan nostalgia when you have nothing else left.
But Iron Maiden aren’t just a band. Even in their lean years, with vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in self-imposed exile from the mother group – there remained a perennial fondness for the band. They’re the Doctor Who of heavy metal ” although some regenerations have proved more popular than others, they remain an institution that’s peculiarly British, and thus eminently marketable both at home and abroad. They’re a cuddly teddy bear Beefeater, an ’I Love London’ T-shirt from Camden Market, a Dickensian cockney scamp, they’re the Queen.
Based on the setlist for Maiden’s current revisionist history tour, and for the kind of elaborate live extravaganzas they were conquering the world with circa 1985’s World Slavery jaunt, this part-live, part-studio album blazes from the get-go. There’s still something cheerily cheesy about the “We will fight them on the beaches|” Winston Churchill intro tape, but when the live version of ’Aces High’ kicks in you can’t help buy right into this heavy metal tourist board version of Englishness, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s guitar-lines duelling like Spitfires and Messerschmitts in the skies over Kent in 1940.
Early classics from the Paul Di’Annio-fronted Iron Maiden appear solely in Bruce Dickinson live renditions, and there’s no ’Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’, but everything from 1989’s rubbish ’Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’ (their only Number One single) onwards has been thankfully omitted. But really this is just an album-length advert for the excellent live show which Maiden have spent more than 30 years honing and perfecting.
If you get the chance this year, make sure you see it. Otherwise console yourself with this and the recent DVD remastering of their dorkily classic Live After Death live show.
2. Aces High
3. 2 Minutes to Midnight
4. The Trooper
2. Children of the Damned
3. The Number of the Beast
4. Run to the Hills
2. The Evil That Men Do
4. Can I Play With Madness
2. Hallowed By Thy Name
3. Iron Maiden